What do you like Christmas for? Gifts, candles, snow, corals, vibrant decorations, family reunions, cosy dishes and drinks… If you like to spice up holidays with some real atmosphere, why not set off on a spontaneous trip and drink your glass of mulled wine on one of the most Christmassy squares of Old Europe? Every city is home to its own Christmas spirit and possess a fistful of time-honoured customs.
Here we share a list of where to find the favourite merriest European destinations for this Christmas.
Best Christmas Getaways in Europe
1. Vienna, Austria
If you are looking for aesthetical pleasure mixed with the old-world elegance, then look no further. With its nook cafés, majestic architecture, and fabulous Christkindlmarkts, Vienna traditionally celebrates Christmas with charm in every detail, creating a scenic backdrop for a memorable winter escape.
Strolling its streets in the frosty winter air, partaking some local delicacies (sausages, pastries, and glühwein), hitting the skating-rink on Rathausplatz, and attending a Christmas concert in one of Vienna’s beautiful churches are what Christmas is about here.
2. Rovaniemi, Finland
Pamper a child-in-you and pay a visit to Santa Claus’ official headquarters, located in an amazingly beautiful winter realm, Lapland.
Even if you are no longer a child, Rovaniemi offers plenty of winter activities such as reindeer rides, fly fishing, husky safari, northern lights tours, and sleeping in an igloo-style hotel room.
3. Prague, Czech Republic
Majestic and nearly fairy-tale architecture, glam of a modern European metropolis, old streets and cosy cafés, spicy aroma of mulled wine and sparkling mania of advent markets – it’s all about Christmas in Prague.
The oldest Christmas market, on the Old Town square, is a wonderland of authentic wooden shacks, traditional Czech delicacies, uplifting music, and nativity scenes.
What to taste while in Prague? You’ll never go wrong with Trdelník, which is a traditional Czech pastry, or ham roasted on a spit.
4. Copenhagen, Denmark
The magic starts from the legendary Tivoli Gardens, the amusement park, which is so old that was visited by Hans Christian Andersen in 1840s. Every year in December, the land of elves turns into a territory of stunning light decorations and festive fun.
To pamper your taste buds, try Aebleskiver, Danish applesauce pancakes, with hot chocolate or drop by at a hyggelige café, which is a Danish synonym for cosiness.
5. Krakow, Poland
Travelling on a budget, but looking for some charming impressions? Krakow doesn’t quite fit the classic Christmas destinations, unlike expensive Berlin or London. This means that you can enjoy breathtaking advent impressions and goodies at a modest price.
Two Christmas markets (one in the Old Town and another near the Galeria Krakowska) are waiting for you with traditional delicacies (bigos, pierogi, and mulled wine locally called Grzaniec Galicyjski). The competition for the best Christmas crib (szopka), which is something in between a gingerbread house, a dollhouse, and a nativity scene – is truly a unique way to celebrate Christmas!
6. Strasbourg, France
Strasbourg is a true capital of Christmas as it is home to the Europe’s oldest Christmas market (Marchés de Noël) that lit up its lights for the first time back in 1570.
Today, Strasbourg cherishes its time-honoured Advent traditions in its numerous authentic wooden stalls packed with seasonal goodies and Christmas gifts, music concerts, cultural events and even Living Nativity, giving the feeling of travelling through time.
Stroll the Old Town, which belongs to UNESCO heritage, stand in awe in its magnificent cathedral built in a Gothic style, sing carols with the crowd, and savour Strasbourg’s seasonal delicacies (mulled wine locally called vin chaud and roasted chestnuts) just to admit: there is no such truly Christmassy place on Earth like Strasbourg.
7. London, United Kingdom
Eulogised in the classic Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, London knows a thing or two in celebrating Christmas.
Every December, the city submerges into the magic of Victorian Age themed evens, uplifting Christmas carols, and amazing lights that are able to lighten hearts.
The best places to get into the Christmas spirit and see some unforgettable performances are Winter Wonderland in the Hyde Park, Royal Albert Hall and St Paul’s Cathedral.
Those tourists visiting London for the shopping purpose, won’t be able to resist bringing home some handmade goodies, jewellery, wooden toys, ceramics, or traditional gingerbread from the Christmas Markets at Tate Modern or Ecology Pavilion at the Mile End.
8. Brussels, Belgium
Brussels is home to one of the Europe’s biggest markets – with a majestic spruce amidst the Grand Place, Christmas chalets full of goodies and seasonal delicacies (Genever and glühwein are must-try!), breathtaking decorations, light & sound shows, and Ferris Wheel.